News / Asia

Taliban Free Fellow Jailed Terrorists from Pakistani Prison

Policemen collect evidence outside a prison following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, July 30, 2013.
Policemen collect evidence outside a prison following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, July 30, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul
— Security forces have launched a massive manhunt in a city in the northwestern Pakistani province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where more than 200 prisoners have escaped following an overnight militant assault on a prison.

With Taliban-led violence on the rise, the leader of the province's ruling party has warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan could lose its anti-terror war unless a national counter-terrorism policy is quickly devised.

Dozens of suspected Taliban fighters armed with bombs and grenades took part in the Monday night raid on the central prison of Dera Ismail Khan, a remote town in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Eyewitnesses and residents said the attack began with a powerful explosion, which was followed by smaller blasts that blew up electricity lines into the prison and rattled almost every house in the neighborhood. Twelve people, including four policemen, were killed during the attack, which lasted for several hours, according to officials.

Pakistani troops were quickly sent in to help the civilian administration prevent the attackers and prisoners from escaping to the neighboring restive tribal districts of North and South Waziristan.  A curfew was imposed in Dera Ismail Khan and a search was launched.

Military sources said that “intelligence-led search operations are underway while combat aviation is also deployed for air surveillance” in-and-around Dera Ismail Khan. They said that all roads leading to the militant-dominated neighboring tribal regions have been blocked.

However, as of Tuesday afternoon Pakistani authorities had been able to recapture only 17 of the escapees, including five women. Three “terrorists” were also killed in the encounter. 

Pakistani Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

Military sources said that nearly 500 prisoners were in the facility at the time of the brazen attack and that 248 managed to escape, including up to 20 they described as “hardcore terrorists.”

The sources revealed that intelligence reports were recently made available to local authorities warning an attack on the prison was imminent. However, only around two dozen police personnel were guarding the facility when Monday night’s raid occurred.  

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has seen a dramatic rise in Taliban-led militant violence in recent months. Imran Khan, the leader of the political party that rules the region, said terrorist attacks like the one on the prison were likely to grow in number unless the central government devised a national counter-extremism policy. 

Speaking to VOA, Khan demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fulfill his commitment to present a national security policy without wasting further time.

“Taliban influence is increasing because radicalization is increasing because extremism is growing and there is no proper policy of dealing with the various forms of terrorism," he said. "Unless there is at a national level a policy is made and then we have something like homeland security [in the U.S.], where all intelligence agencies pool their intelligence and a coherent policy comes across, [with] all stakeholders on board -- unless that happens, we are going to lose this war.”

However, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal dismissed criticism that Prime Minister Sharif’s administration was not making efforts to confront the militants.

“We are trying to deal with the situation. The prime minister has had consensus with the security agencies. Now we are evolving a consensus with the political parties. Very shortly, Prime Minister [Sharif] will have a meeting of all the political parties. We want to have a national strategy on security, so that we can address this issue with fullest national resolve,” said Iqbal.

Last week, Taliban extremists killed nearly 60 people, mostly Shi'ite Muslims, in two separate bomb attacks in the northwestern Kurrum tribal district. That violence came just days after a commando-style militant gun-and-bomb raid on a regional headquarters of the country’s main spy agency, the ISI, which is directing Pakistan’s war against terrorism.

The attack in the otherwise sleepy southern town of Sukkur killed nine people, including four ISI officers.

Since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led anti-terrorism war 12 years ago, successive governments in Islamabad have come under criticism for not evolving a clear policy to deal with Islamic radicalism. Despite losing thousands of Pakistanis in the anti-militant campaign, critics say that a prolonged debate among political leaders on whether to use outright military force against militant groups or engage them in peace talks to end violence has simply emboldened extremist forces in the country.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hamoun from: Zabol
July 30, 2013 11:19 AM
The sources revealed that intelligence reports were recently made available to local authorities warning an attack on the prison was imminent. However, only around two dozen police personnel were guarding the facility when Monday night’s raid occurred.

Same security force that was searching for Bin Laden. Looks like Pkistn has a real commitment to ending global terrorism...not.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid